Monday, May 23, 2011

iPhone Application Developed by Mass. General Researchers Aids First Responders in Georgia

Lt. Jeff Lisle

On November 8, 2010, Atlanta emergency medical technician Lt. Jeff Lisle and his partner Scott Icard were returning from a routine patient transfer in Northwest Georgia on highway 441. They had successfully transported a patient from an Atlanta hospital to an inpatient rehabilitation facility north of the city when a vehicle pulled up alongside their ambulance as it motored down the two-lane road.

“I remember the car flashing its lights and honking the horn,” says Lisle. “When they pulled up beside us it was pretty clear that someone in the vehicle was in distress.”

Through the rolled down window Lisle could see a woman driver and a young man sitting in the passenger seat. The woman indicated that her boyfriend had suffered a gun shot wound and she was seeking the closest hospital. Lisle, a nearly 20-year veteran emergency services worker with more than 16 years of experience as an EMT-P, quickly pulled the vehicle to the side of the road and with Icard, began assisting the young man.

“We quickly evaluated the situation and it was quite clear he was shot in the chest with what we would later learn was a .22 caliber bullet,” says Lisle. “After stabilizing him, our next priority was to get him to the closest hospital as soon as possible.”

Unfamiliar with the area, Lisle pulled out his iPhone and activated EMNet findER, a smart phone application created by the Emergency Medicine Network (EMNet) at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. The free app, powered by EMNet’s verified database of nearly 5,000 U.S. emergency rooms, is designed to provide users with emergency room information and directions based on their geographic location.

“The first hospital came up and I contacted them using the information within the app but they had informed me that they were not a trauma center,” remembers Lisle. “So we used the app to locate the next closest ER which ended up being Floyd Medical Center in Rome, about 20 minutes away.”

Lisle, a 44 year-old married father of one, directed  Icard to reverse direction and head back north while Lisle continued to care for the patient.

“I remember the patient being conscious and alert when we arrived at the ER,” recalls Lisle. “I believe the he ended up recovering from his injuries.”

Lisle’s experience highlights the ever evolving intersection between healthcare and mobile technology.

“Stories like Lt. Lisle’s are very gratifying because it’s a clear example of how our research and subsequent initiatives to create tools like EMNet findER can have a real impact on public health,” says Carlos Camargo, MD, DrPH, founder and director of EMNet, based at Massachusetts General Hospital. “Our researchers work tirelessly to verify and update our national ER database to ensure the effectiveness of the app, which has the potential to save lives.”

While members of the public could benefit from using EMNet findER in the event of a health emergency, Lisle’s story illustrates how emergency medicine professionals can also use health apps while on duty. 

“At Central EMS in Atlanta, we do a lot of long distance transport throughout the country,” says Lisle. “It’s comforting to us to have an app like this for areas we’re less familiar with. I tell all new employees and trainees to download findER.”

EMNet recently announced that their free app, EMNet findER, is also now available for BlackBerry and Android users.

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